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Thai People Are Bad Drivers

Thai People can’t drive. That’s basically what Thailand wants to do is tell the world that when they come to Thailand expect to encounter motorists who don’t stop at a red light. The Nation recently published this article about how one acadamic believes handbooks should be handed out to tourists informing them of how bad Thai drivers are.
Thai people are bad drivers
The ridiculousness of the argument in the article by the Nation that tourists should be warned about Thai drivers when they arrive is absurd. How many tourists does Thailand get a year, say 20million? And there are about 40 million people who drive a vehicle in Thailand bikes, scooters, cars etc I’m just guessing that number but it can’t be that wrong.

So in two years you would have educated more tourists about Thai driving habits and educated not one single Thai person how to operate a vehicle safely. It just boggles the mind what so called academics can come up with.

I’ve gone and got the Thai license and I did it in Thai so I know exactly what the Thai’s get taught and they don’t get taught didly. In fact I asked the guy if I was on a roundabout and wanted to exit do I need to use the blinker he said “No, you don’t have to indicate, exit when you can”. Further pressed I asked him if it were a three lane round about do I need to indicate? Again he said no it’s not necessary.

The government could create a thriving industry in Thailand creating thousands of jobs by forcing Thai’s to take driver lessens and defensive driving courses. Is that beauracracy, sure, but it’s a hell of a lot better than telling the world to accept how dangerous Thai people drive.

Maybe that’s not the answer and maybe the problems go further than basic training for Thai drivers. Take for example the road conditions the lack of road signs and the crazy laws and bendable laws as well. I know several Thai’s who have killed people on the roads didn’t do any jail time nor did they lose their license. In fact if you get caught driving without a license it’s only a 200 baht fine anyway. Does the acadamic who came up with the tourist driving guide think they should put this bit if information in the booklet as well?

I’m not the only one who thinks this is a stupid idea either. A blogger at Bangkok Post also thinks the idea is completely insane. Here’s a quote from his post.

Are experts basically saying we should greet all visitors at Suvarnabhumi with a guide that says, “Welcome to Thailand! We drive like crap, have a pleasant (and bumpy) stay!”? What content would this handbook entail anyway? Would it read something like, “Chapter 1: What to do when you see a motorcyclist driving on the sidewalk or coming down the wrong side of the road”? Or perhaps, “Chapter 2: ‘Do you know who my daddy is’ and other useful phrases on Thai roads”?

This blogger has a good point. I mean should you really have to prepare yourself for an unlicened driver of an illegal side cart coming out the wrong way of a one way street half cut slamming into you wiping you out and if you survive you get no compensation because the guy has 2 baht to his name. How do you write that into a handbook?

According to the following video from a Thai station in the USA, Amenians are worse than Thai drivers, this Thai girl explains how her sister was ran over by an Armenian-American who sped through a red light and killed her sister. Reason why I mention this video is because it just goes to show that doesn’t matter where you are in the world you’re going to find crazy drivers, moreso in Thailand but I don’t think anyone needs a handbook.


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About Chris

Chris founded Living Thai and author of the books Learn the The Thai Alphabet and How to make money in Thailand also the Blueprint for Living in Thailand. Chris started this blog with the aim of educating westerners on how to have the best time in Thailand, to make new friends and to vent his frustrations Chris is also fluent in both written and spoken Thai.

17 Responses to Thai People Are Bad Drivers

  1. Quick Question March 5, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    I’m an American and I’ve been traveling the world for nearly a decade, but Thailand driving messes with my head. If I’m really tired I’ll try to get into the wrong side of the car, or drive on the wrong side of the road with my motorbike (if there’s no traffic around). When driving a car it’s important but not easy to keep the “slow and steady” approach as motorbikes basically gangbang you from all sides and cars are squeezing into things are are not lanes.

    A funny moment is when you’re walking on the sidewalk that’s all busted up, looking down to avoid tripping, looking up to avoid strangling yourself on an electric wire, and BAM! A motorbike is heading straight for you and puts on the angry face because you’re on his sidewalk. Another moment, not as funny, is trying to find a designated drunk driver (aka motorbike taxi) after a late night partying. It’s not a daily occurrence, but when it happens it’s scary as hell. I’m surprised there are not more fatalities from driving in this country.

  2. neale March 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    I have been her near on three years, & have covered over 40,000k on two wheels “most on a small motorbike” Never in my whole life have I felt safer…. previously I was doing in excess of 2,500k monthly in America on a bicycle “I race bicycles” so I’m in a pretty good position to see the difference… night and day in favor of riding here in Thailand, only had one time here to get a little pissed in three years, in America was a daily event…

    The American driving test is not much better than a Thai test.
    Most people from the USA seem to bitch about Thai drivers, probably cause they never had to use just two wheels for transportation unlike most Thais. Oh and probably driving on the left is way to complicated.

    The few Americans I saw riding a bike in America “non competitively” where in the most part riding on the wrong side of the road against traffic.

    I rarely here Europeans bitching about Thai drivers… Probably cause most of them can ride a bike, and the tests are not a joke like in the USA.

    • Chris March 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      lol you think? We’ll have to agree to disagree

      • neale March 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

        :-) agree to disagree:

    • Ken March 8, 2013 at 2:42 am #

      Neale, you are an idiot.

  3. Bam March 6, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    SUPER !!!!

    that you can handle your riding in THAILAND very well. Ummm… you are real professional who knows how to riding in THAILAND. (SO good NEVER hurt yourself and someone)

    I wish you have a good luck and safety with your riding in THAILAND.

  4. Glenn March 7, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    I am a licensed driving instructor in Australia,planning to live in Thailand.
    Pity the laws are such In Thailand that I can’t teach there,no doubt there is a market for it.
    And they drive on the {correct} side of the road like us, to boot.
    Cheers
    Glenn

  5. Sean March 7, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Got to say I’m a bit surprised how dangerous it is driving in the US. 12.3 annual fatalities per 100,000 people, 15/100,000 verhicles. The UK is 3.5/100,000 people and 7/100,000 vehicles. Thailand looks safer with 19.6/100,000 people but then it all goes nuts with 118.8/100,000 vehicles!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

    Does seem crazy to spend money informing tourists that Thai people can’t drive on the off-chance that this might make them complain less when their relative dies (!) – rather than spending that money trying to improve driving and actually save the lives of tourists and Thai people, which you’d have thought would be more likely to encourage tourism.

  6. Ken Bumboo March 7, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Freedom comes with a price. You don’t have cops pulling you over for a broken tail light with one hand on their gun. You don’t have a cop pulling you over because you “look like” you don’t “belong in this neighborhood.”

    I would say the driving style is “flowing.” Road signs are “suggestions.” I was scared at first, but now completely comfortable with it. Traffic lanes, red lights, and stop signs are suggestions. I run red lights too now. All good. I drive very consciously. No day dreaming. It works out fine.

    The bikes generally give way to cars … in “law of the jungle” style. To sum up, the style is flowing, not formal. In a sense, I prefer it now to American formality and exorbitant ticket costs or court dates that ruin your day. And cops who are ready to shoot to kill, or taze if they don’t like your “attitude.” My opinion.

  7. dpcjsr March 7, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    how can you tell the difference between a normal Thai driver and a drunk Thai driver?

    answer: you can’t. they both drive exactly the same.

  8. ChiangMaiGuy March 8, 2013 at 2:16 am #

    its not so much about they are ‘bad’ drivers but they are ‘ selfish’ drivers for sure – they will turn, park and go where they want and because? they are ‘Thai’

    It’s in their cultural genes

    • Krypton March 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      I quite agree with you, most Lao and Thai drivers I met were selfish. They don’t like (and some even hate) carpooling, walking, not getting the fastest way, people who are in front of them and traffic jams. But I felt that it doesn’t differ from other places too much.

      • Sean March 14, 2013 at 7:25 am #

        It really doesn’t differ much does it… If you can find people who like carpooling, not getting the fastest way, people who are in front of them and traffic jams then it might be fair to say that a certain group of people are ‘selfish’, otherwise it’s just rude.

  9. scuba1959 March 10, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    Driving in Thailand is like Organized Chaos. I learned to drive in New York City and spent alot of time driving around the greater Los Angeles area if you think drivers are bad in Thailand you havent experienced really bad drivers like in the USA. I find that most Thai drivers of cars, lack experience and basic drivers knowledge and should be required to get proper training/drivers ed. As far as motor bikes go most Thais are practically born riding them and have really good riding skills. When your in congested areas you just move slow. I have been driving all over Thailand for years, I’ve driven in every major city driving more than 50K kilometers each year without an incident and I drive very fast. I agree with Ken it’s a pleasure not being bombarded with USA cops at every corner trying to empty your wallet for any minor infraction.
    And just for the record I do all this driving on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD sitting on the wrong side of the car. and Yes I ride a Harley too and have the same experiences.
    As far as telling tourists that Thais are bad drivers, ridiculous no better or worse than any where else.
    The tourists are another story. I lived in Hawaii for over 10 years and there was always someone in a fatal accident almost always a tourist, Not because Hawaii drivers are bad because I found that most tourist on vacation leave their common sense and brains at home, and tourist brain is just plain stupid. If you are going to hand tourists anything it should be the rental agency and they need to make sure the renters understand what its like driving here in Thailand and give them some training before you let them just drive off.

  10. Johnnie Walker March 12, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    25 years an approved UK Driving Instructor and 21 years driving big rig trucks. I find the standards of driving in Thailand OUTSIDE the cities to be quite good, but its bad in the cities, especially Pattaya.

    Money would be far better spent on putting short public information films on the TV showing Thai drivers how to tackle specific situations correctly. i.e. Roundabouts. There are so many u-turn road layouts many Thai drivers rarely come across a roundabout.

    I’m currently in the small town of Kalibo, Aklan province, Philippines. There are 3,500 motor trike taxis in the town! Many of them with old 2 stroke engines. If you look into the distance you can see the pollution haze. As for the standard of driving – well lets say it makes Thailand look very good.

  11. james hague March 15, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Thai people can not drive as they don’t learn how to. They buy, as my girlfriend has, their license. If you don’t learn how to do something, you can’t do it. Quite simple really.

  12. simon January 26, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    I have lived here twelve years. I have also lived in korea,china,japan,cambodia for reasonable lenthgs of time. THAIS ARE BY FAR THE WORST DRIVERS I HAVE EVER SEEN.

    This week outside my front door. LITERALLY! There have been 4 accidents. one three days ago, two last night and one thi evening. First one guy comes around a slight bend in the road somehow goes all the way across the other side takes out 3 parked motorcycles,a pick up truck and huge steel sign thats anchored about a mtere into the ground.

    Last night first accident, A CAR WIPES OUT A MOTORCYCLE dont know how didnt see it happen but the motorcycle driver was in pretty bad shape

    Last night second accident, Im on my motorcycle riding back from 7 11, I turn off earlier than usual three doors before my house, not sure why but somebody was watching over me. I look around the bike that was behind me smashed into by a car that was drivng extemely fast. Guy riding the bike flys through the air for abotu 15 metres and is stopped by a electricity post. Broken ribs smashed up face and god knows what else. The car finally managed to stop about 30 metres up the road with the bike stuck inside the engine bay of his car.

    Then tongiht (the final thing that made me think enough to google search and find this thread.
    Some idiot drives off the road through a light box through a shop garden selling plants and into a wall.

    OMFG

    And i can tell you generally its not the motorcycle drivers. They do stupid things but most are generally a litle cautious how they do it.
    All in all its the car drivers they have no licence, if they do its worth nothing as the test is the biggest joke ever, they drive drunk, they drive angrily, they always fell like they (have to win) not sure how they think this is winning anything though), they no respect for anybody or anything around them. and are just idiots in general. But hey the comeback is hmmmm well nothing, no jail time, no lmaginery licence taken away, just a slap on the wrist and on your way home for dinner.

    WHAT A JOKE

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